Interesting commentary about Hurricane Katrina over at Weather Undergound. Dr. Jeff Masters has a "Day-After-Tomorrow-esque" comment:
"When hurricanes reach such enormous sizes, they tend to create their own upper-air environment, making them highly resistant to external wind shear."
And hurricane specialist Steve Gregory says:
"there really has never been such an intense storm in the Atlantic region that has been able to maintain this type of intensity for very long. 24 hours is about the longest on record, and 12 hours is probably the average. EVERY storm I know of in which we have been able to observe eye wall replacement cycles has always gone through the process to some degree. It's now been 24 hours since the last cycle finished. And at the moment, satellite imagery and the RECON data shows that the eyewall is clearly expanding. It never was able to get lower than 20NM
early this morning. Last night I conjectured that we may have seen an eye wall replacement cycle start this evening, and if it went slowly, the storm would weaken some before making landfall. (This is in addition to the potential for some light wind shear impacting the system before landfall.) At the risk of hitting enter on this, only to see Katrina begin a real eye wall cycling begin, I am wondering if what we are going to actually see is a 'pulsation effect' where the exiting eye wall expands out to say 40NM, and then shrinks back down towards 20NM by morning. And because there are absolutely no other known environmental variable (except some light shear in the NW quadrant by morning....) this would result in some additional easing of winds during the next few hours, followed by an increase back up to as much as 175mph winds again by daybreak. If this process actually unfolds"
We're already beginning to hear the "storm of the century" remarks. I'm not that old, and I've heard a lot of "X of the Century!" already, so I'm a bit skeptical. Isn't it possible that the warming ocean temperatures--global warming in action--is actually making this kind of thing relatively commonplace? As the temperatures continue to warm, just how commonplace will this become? Starts to sound a lot like that "grossly unrealistic" movie plot from 'The Day After Tomorrow.'
Either way, oil is already up $4 in the normally anemic Sunday night trading, and the information about damaged offshore platforms will not really begin to trickle in until Tuesday. A price of $80/barrel by Friday would not surprise me.